Consumer Information

What You Should Know About Chiropractors and Their Services


What is a chiropractor, or "D.C."?

Chiropractors are independent health care professionals who treat many conditions as they relate to the spine, emphasizing the dependency of health on the correct functioning of the central nerve system.

Chiropractors adjust or manipulate misaligned vertebrae (the bones of your spinal column) to restore correct functioning of your central nerve system. They may also work with other parts of your body affected by the misaligned vertebrae. Chiropractors may do this by using their hands and various mechanical and electrical instruments. "D.C." stands for "Doctor of Chiropractic," the degree New York licensed chiropractors must earn.


What credentials do New York licensed chiropractors have?

New York licensed chiropractors have completed a minimum of two years of college courses in the basic sciences followed by a four-year professional study program at an accredited chiropractic college. This results in the Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. These professionals have also passed national written and "hands-on" practical examinations.


What kinds of conditions or complaints does a chiropractor treat?

Chiropractors care for patients suffering from a wide variety of symptoms as their cause relates to the spine, such as headaches; numbness; back, shoulder, neck, chest, rib, arm and leg pain; abnormal curvature of the spine; muscle spasms; dizziness; and even some stress, asthma, and allergy disorders, among others.


How are these conditions or complaints treated?

Chiropractic is a hands-on profession; the primary treatment procedure is the chiropractic spinal adjustment. Licensed New York chiropractors are authorized to:

  • Detect nerve interference by using their hands, instruments, x-rays or other imaging procedures (e.g., MRIs), and by ordering and interpreting laboratory tests;
  • Adjust and/or manipulate bones in your body;
  • Use electrical stimulation, acupressure, massage, ultrasound, deep heat, hot and cold packs, traction, and support devices; and
  • Provide guidance and recommendations on lifestyle habits, posture, exercise, diet, and stress.

What can you expect during a chiropractic examination?

The chiropractor will conduct a physical examination and record a comprehensive case history related to the chiropractic services. Like other primary care health professionals, chiropractors consider many different causes for your symptoms.

If some other type of care is needed in addition to or instead of chiropractic care, you may be referred to another health care provider. Chiropractors often consult with other health professionals, such as medical doctors.


How do I locate a chiropractor?

Other consumers or your health care practitioners may be able to refer you to a chiropractor. State and local chiropractic associations often maintain a list of chiropractors who provide services. Chiropractors are also listed in the yellow pages of your phone book.

The State Board for Chiropractic cannot offer you a referral.


Will my health insurance cover chiropractic services?

Probably--but review and understand your insurance plan. Contact your insurance provider or consult with your chiropractor's office staff, who can often help you determine your plan's benefits.

If you have a complaint about coverage, please contact the New York State Insurance Department External Link Iconat 1-800-342-3736.


To help your professional relationship with your chiropractor you should:

  • Answer all health-related questions completely and accurately
  • Ask questions about terminology and procedures you don't understand
  • Ask why and how a chiropractic adjustment will be made
  • Authorize your other health care providers to release your records to your chiropractor
  • Ask about insurance coverage for your treatment

In turn, your chiropractor should:

  • Explain your diagnosis, treatment plan, and the procedures that will be used
  • Advise you on appropriate attire for examination and treatment--only the areas of your body being treated or examined should be exposed

What records are maintained? Can anyone else get them?

Your patient file typically includes your case history, physical examination data, x-ray films, lab findings, and reports from other treatment professionals. Your chiropractor must keep client records for six years (three years for x-ray films) or until the client turns 22, whichever is longer.

Generally, your records are confidential unless you approve their release. Ask your professional about exceptions to this. If you want a copy of your records, provide your chiropractor with a written request. You may be charged a reasonable fee to offset the cost of providing copies.


What questions should individuals with disabilities ask about accessing services?

Ask such questions as whether the service location is physically accessible (curb cuts, ramps, restrooms, etc.) as well as whether there is a Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) and parking for people with disabilities.


Verifying a New York license

You may verify licenses on this site.

New York chiropractors must display a current New York registration certificate; this certificate lists the professional's name, address, and dates of the registration period. Chiropractors must reregister every three years to practice in New York. Some professionals also display their original New York license, diploma, licenses from other states, and membership certificates.

Last Updated: April 7, 2014